Asian Games 2018: Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy crash out; Ashwini Ponnappa-Sikki Reddy enter quarter-finals
On a highly disappointing Day 6 of the Asian Games 2018 for Indian badminton, both Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy crashed out in the opening round of the men’s singles event at this pan-Asian multisporting games in Jakarta, Indonesia. The only saving grace of the day for the Indian contingent was the pre-quarter-final win of the women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy.
After receiving a bye in the first round, both the Indian men’s singles shuttlers were expected to come through. The sixth seeded Srikanth faced the 28th ranked Wong Wing Ki Vincent, a player he had a 5-2 winning head-to-head record against. In a tightly fought opening game, the Indian had game points but he failed to make use of any of them as it went to Vincent 23-21.
The Hong Kong player got better and better and then started involving the former World No. 1 in long rallies to extract errors from him. With the Indian way below his top form, he obliged, even though the score remained pretty close till the end.
Tied till 16-16, the Indian went up to 18-17 only to see the lower-ranked player making a comeback to win the next four points and secure a 23-21, 21-19 win.
The 11th seeded Prannoy started his match on a disastrous note, conceding the first game to the 20th ranked Kantaphon Wanghcharoen. The Kerala shuttler had got the better of the Thai in a tight three-game contest on his way to winning the bronze medal at the Asian Championships in April.
He raised hopes of a repeat of that when he brought forth his attacking game to level the match by taking the second game.
However, the Thai only grew in confidence as the decider progressed. With relentless speed and power, he just denied Prannoy any chance. It was soon evident that Prannoy had no ace up his sleeves to counter the World No. 20 as he started looking more and more weary and clueless.
Wangcharoen finished the 65-minute match with a 21-12, 15-21, 21-15 victory.
Ponnappa and Reddy brought the smiles back to the Indian camp with a gritty 21-17, 16-21, 21-19 win over the Malaysian combine of Chow Mei Kuan and Lee Meng Yean in 1 hour 12 minutes. The win made them the first Indians to enter the women’s doubles quarter-finals at the Asiad since Hurfish Nariman and Mallika Barua in 1986.